It’s been a long, expensive and complicated overhaul of the Allen Lane Regional Rail station, but it’s nearly over, SEPTA officials say. SEPTA representatives met with members of the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch Thursday night to discuss how the project began and how it will hopefully finish. Construction began in March 2009 after nearly a decade of discussion and formal planning. Major renovation is now complete, and what remains is largely detail work, said project manager Bill Caden. Some new handrails need to be installed, others will be repaired and painted, and landscaping work and signage is left be finished. “We wanted to make sure we got the station open as quickly as possible for everyone to use,” he said, and his goal was to have most punch list items done by early May. About a dozen members of the town watch gathered in the Brossman Center on the Lutheran Theological Seminary campus for the discussion. Wendy Green-Harvey, constituent relations coordinator for SEPTA, said the work is “down to undotted Is and uncrossed Ts,” and a re-opening ceremony would likely be held in late May or June.
Calling the Allen Lane work “one of the toughest sites I’ve ever had to deal with,” Caden said both the location and circumstances like last year’s epic series of snowstorms, complicated matters. The 19th-century Frank Furness-designed station has been updated with elevated platforms, additional accessibility, a new public announcement system, and a pedestrian overpass. The project cost will run about $8.1 million in total, Caden said, more than the projected $7.5 million, and a similar job at the Queen Lane station will total about $4.5 million. Steve Stroiman, the town watch’s director, asked what SEPTA could do to minimize and discourage graffiti. Caden said the concrete piers and most vertical surfaces would be treated with anti-graffiti coating that makes paint more easily removed. Before the overhaul, the station’s deteriorating condition and overall safety were a major neighborhood concern, but residents who attended Thursday’s meeting expressed satisfaction overall.
Major concern was reserved for the Allens Lane PennDOT bridge, rated “structurally deficient” by federal Department of Transportation standards. The SEPTA representatives agreed, and offered to help neighbors get in touch with the right people at the state agency. “I’m not a structural engineer, but I know enough to know that when I look up at the underside of the bridge, I see daylight,” Caden said. Crime in the vicinity of the SEPTA station continues to be a concern, even with improved lighting at the new station, and Monday night, a woman reported being robbed by two men of a computer and bag on the new inbound walkway. Green-Harvey said it might be possible to get a recordable security camera installed, as was done at the East Falls station using a small grant. Once the ribbon is cut, however, it won’t yet be the end of the line for the Allen Lane project. Crossing Construction Company, of Washington Crossing, sued SEPTA in December, accusing the transportation agency of causing delays. The case is set for a June 2012 trial.